Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lion and Lamb…

I’m not going to speculate who is the lion and who is the lamb, but… the was a hubbub outside Floor Leader John Diehl’s office yesterday because his office acted as Switzerland in the Utility War, this year known as ISRS.


Diehl brought together Noranda topper Kip Smith and Ameren head Warner Baxter for direct one-on-one, in person discussions.  In the room beside the two principals were House Utilities Chair Doug Funderburk and Diehl.


It’s said that they met for nearly three hours.  As far as anyone I spoke to knows, it was the first such sustained sit-down the two top people have had.  Further discussions are planned.


It’s hoped that the opening of direct talks between the two titans illuminates a path by which the ISRS legislation can move forward.



SB207 still has not been placed on the calendar despite a vote advancing it a week ago out of the Commerce Committee.  Perhaps waiting to see if a compromise solution can be worked out before dropping something on the Senate floor?



Senate Passes Tax Cut

The Senate approved a massive tax bill yesterday.  See Virginia Young’s article here.  She notes the wide discrepancy between sponsor Sen. Will Kraus’ estimated fiscal note ($450 million) and MO Budget Project’s estimate ($700 million).  The heart of the bill would cut income tax while raising the sales tax, but there’s likely some discovery still to occur in the 300+ page bill.


Holsman Amendment

Sen. Jason Holsman offered an amendment which was ruled out of order, but raised the contradiction in the Republican position on starving the beast (FYI that’s government, not Satan) while still underfunding education.


“The provisions of this act shall only become effective upon a total formula appropriation sufficient to fully fund the entitlement calculation determined by section 163.031.”  In other words, no tax cuts until the foundation formula for schools is fully funded.



If you’re the type who looks for sign-posts, it’s interesting that Sen. Scott Sifton was the only Democrat to have an amendment adopted during the debate.  He could become a go-to player in the body.



Common Core Standards

In Sen. John Lamping’s continuing move to the right, he presented SB210 to the Senate Education Committee.  It would prohibit the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards.


The “Common Core” standards are supported by the educational reformers as well as the educational establishment organization.  But it’s not very popular with the Tea Party, data-fearing crowd.



Paycheck Protection Chessboard

The Senate debated SB29 (paycheck protection) again yesterday before laying it back on the informal calendar.  With Democrats, so far, unyielding in their opposition, there’s no clarity on the path for the legislation to move forward.


In the absence of a compromise, the Republican supermajority could dust off the feared PQ, but then there’s the touchy business of timing.


It’s assumed that after using the nuclear option, Democrats would slow the Senate to a slog.  Any goodwill would vanish and you’d have to use the PQ to pass anything.


For this reason, the PQ is used on the last day of session – so as to not jeopardize everything else. Therefore it’s more likely that the Senate would PQ a bill from the House at the end of the process, rather than a bill out of the Senate at the beginning of the process.


There are three other problematic issues with the current landscape.  First, the Democratic governor will likely veto the bill.  Second, and related, observers do not believe that the Republican House majority can override a veto on labor issues.  So all of this would be for naught.


Finally, there is the matter of an invigorated organized labor coming after vulnerable House Republicans in 2014.  Remember there’s no statewide contest other than the auditor’s race.  All that labor money which was funneled to the Nixon campaign – and Kinder’s and Koster’s and Zweifel’s – can be directed into state senate and state representative races.



The Silvey Era in Clay County

Sen. Ryan Silvey keeps pushing legislation which stalled during the Luann Ridgeway years.  Earlier it was removing the prohibition against Kansas City police from engaging in political activity.   Yesterday in the Senate Economic Development Committee he presented SB257.


From the summary: “Under current law, port authorities located in Clay County do not have the authority to establish port improvement districts within their port district boundaries. This act removes this legal impediment.”


Ridgeway had wanted Clay out of the act; Silvey is putting them in.



Schaefer Grants Hearing for Medicaid Expansion Bill

Sen. Paul LeVota’s SB349 has a hearing scheduled in the Senate Appropriations Committee next week.  See it here.


Expect a big crowd for that one…



With the list of business groups growing daily that want to accept the legislature to accept Medicaid expansion, one wonders whether the Republican majority is starting to feel some pressure to do something with the issue.


The Barnes transformation bill is expected to get a debate on the floor after it comes out of Rep. Jay Barnes’ committee.  But will it get a vote?  Is this the sort of issue that needs a year for the body to digest and then they return to take a whack at it in 2014?  In an election year, that seems dicey.  Might be now or never…



AIM-less on SB1?

Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty testified against SB1 yesterday in the House Workforce Development Committee.  Supporters of the legislation cited it as the latest flip-flop in AIM’s position on the legislation.


After the Senate approved the bill, AIM posted an item on their blog blasting the compromise.  That post was then taken down and others were posted in its place which appeared to endorse the legislation: “While Senate Bill 1 is not what AIM originally set out to accomplish, the compromise the Senate approved does help AIM’s membership.”



Rumorville: Riddle for Pro Tem

When Rep. Jason Smith becomes Congressman Jason Smith and the speaker pro tem position opens up, the talk now is that Rep. Jeanie Riddle will be a candidate for that leadership spot.  Previously Rep. Denny Hoskins has indicated interested in that job as well.


Riddle is expected to be headed to the Senate in 2014 (Jolie Justus’ Senate 10 district), so that would re-open the pro tem position after her serving the role for one year.



New School Group Formed

Have you ever watched the legislature try to turn an education bill into a law and thought to yourself, “If only there was one more advocacy group, this process would be a lot cleaner an easier?”  If so, I have some good news for you…


Meet the Missouri Public School Advocates, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure the stability and strength of Missouri public schools.  See the website here.  And here’s the new acronym to learn: MPSA.


The press release

“Based on recent census data, 85 to 90 percent of children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in Missouri attend public schools. And yet, the public schools are in constant danger of being underfunded.


The Missouri Public School Advocates was founded to be a strong advocate for those students and schools, inform the public about threats to public education funding and to tell the success stories of Missouri’s public schools….”


The Missouri Public School Advocates Board of Directors

- Gary Sharpe, President, former Executive Director of the Missouri Council of School Administrators

- Jim Ritter, Vice-President, retired Columbia Public Schools Superintendent

- Peggy Cochran, Secretary, former Missouri National Education Association Executive Director

- Carole Kennedy, Treasurer, former President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals

- Orlo Shroyer, former Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

- Dan Colgan, retired St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent

- Jim Kreider, former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and current Executive Director of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association

- John Cary, current St. Louis Special School District Superintendent

- Jim Dunn, former President of the National School Public Relations Association

- Tom Cummings, retired North Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent

- Sara Lampe, former teacher and principal, former state representative from Springfield, and advocate for at-risk students

- Carl Peterson, businessman and former school board member in Ferguson-Florissant School District

- Sue Magruder, former elementary school teacher and college educator



Mini-Baby Boom

Lots of infanticipating among the Capitol family.


Expecting… Former Rupp aide Melissa DeStefano Furey and Axiom’s Shawn Furey; Lobbying power couple Deanna Borland Hemphill and Brent Hemphill; Rep. Caleb Jones and wife Lindsey; and Rep. Todd Richardson and wife Amber.


It’s said the sudden baby boom can be traced to November 7, 2012 – once the 2012 election cycle was finished and the couple were able to see each other for the first time in months….



Will Krewson or Shrewsbury Take on Reed?

On January 10, 2011, Jim Shrewsbury converted his PAC back to a Candidate Committee, with President of the Board listed as his office sought.  This was a mere days after Governor Jay Nixon appointed to the Regional Convention Center and Sports Complex Authority.


But 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson is sitting on $154,569.27.  Shrewsbury and Krewson ran in the 2002 election to succeed Francis Slay as Board President with Shrewsbury besting Krewson- 55.79% to 44%.


In 2007, Lewis Reed defeated incumbent Board President Shrewsbury- 53.75% to 46.25%.



eMailbag: Even More Jesuits-Trained Connections

In the ever continuing quest to catalogue graduates of Jesuit learning institutions here are the latest entries: Sen. John Lamping (SLUH), Rep. John Rizzo (Rockhurst University), lobbyist Brian Berskoetter (Rockhurst University), and political operative Shawn Furey (SLUH).



Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:


Edward D Watkins added Trails End.

Richard D Watters added Primrose Retirement Communities LLC, Take Care Health Systems LLC, and Minuteclinic.

David A Shorr deleted American Cleaners & Laundry Co Inc.



$5K+ Contributions

Continue to Care Committee - $10,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Keep KC Jobs Committee - $10,000 from Burns & McDonnell.

United Food & Commercial Workers Local #655 Elect Political Action Fund - $6,483 from United Food & Commerical Workers Local #655.

Kander for Missouri - $9,736 from Envision Communications.

Professional Firefighters of Central St. Louis County PAC - $25,000 from Professional Firefighters of W St. Louis Co.




Happy birthdays to Jeff Layman and former state senator Frank Barnitz (45).